Bishop Blair Urges Toledo-Area Catholics to Reject Domestic-Partner Registry
From The Toledo Blade:
The leader of the Toledo Catholic Diocese urged parishioners [Sunday] to oppose the creation of a registry for unmarried partners in the City of Toledo.(emphasis added)
The ordinance, approved in 10-2 vote by City Council last week, would allow any same-sex couples, as well as heterosexual couples, to register as "domestic partners." It awaits Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s signature.
A statement issued by Bishop Leonard P. Blair, read in churches throughout Lucas County [Sunday] morning, said: "We ought not to be encouraging cohabitation by giving it legal recognition as an alternative to marriage."
The bishop asks parishioners to "join me in opposing measures like the domestic partnership registry, particularly when there has been little time for public discussion."
"I don’t think [the legislation] was rushed through," said Councilman Joe McNamara, who introduced the registry as a way to announce Toledo’s tolerance for diversity in its desire to attract new residents.
The registry would provide employers who want to offer benefits to unmarried couples a way to check their relationship status.
Registration costs $25 and requires both members of the couple to sign an affidavit stating they are in an intimate relationship, share a residence, are at least 18 years old, and are not blood relatives.
Bishop Blair cited the Ohio voters 2004 approval of a "Defense of Marriage" state constitutional amendment, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
"Not only religious faith, but also human reason, tell us that the way to move our community forward is to strengthen the institution of marriage, not weaken it by giving legal standing to lifestyles that are not in keeping with the God-given meaning and purpose of marriage," the statement says.
Mr. McNamara, a Catholic, said, "I’m trying to serve God and my fellow man. I’m trying to help as many people as I possibly can. I think this legislation is good for Toledo."
The full text of Bishop Blair's letter can be read at the Diocese of Toledo's website:
November 16, 2007(emphasis added)
Dear Friends in Christ,
This past week the Bishops of the United States gathered in Baltimore for their annual meeting. It was an occasion for us to reaffirm that as a requirement of our faith, the Church is obliged to participate “in shaping the moral character of society,” and that every faithful Catholic is obliged to exercise good citizenship by participating in civic and political life. Our nation’s tradition of pluralism is enhanced, not threatened, when the Church and her individual members speak out on the basis of their faith convictions and their moral concerns.
Last week the Toledo City Council approved a “domestic partnership” ordinance by which legal recognition is given to non-marital relationships of adults of the same sex or of different sexes sharing a common residence. There is talk of this being adopted by Lucas County as well. As reported in the media (Toledo Blade, Nov. 14, 2007), the Toledo ordinance, and I quote, “received fast-paced consideration from a council that often subjects controversial measures to months of discussion.”
This is no surprise given the strong pressure in many sectors of our society, sometimes even contrary to the will of the people, to allow the state to redefine marriage or to confer all or some of the benefits of marriage on other relationships. You will recall that in 2004 Ohio voters approved a Defense of Marriage amendment which defines marriage as a union strictly between a man and a woman.
Not only religious faith, but also human reason, tell us that the way to move our community forward is to strengthen the institution of marriage, not weaken it by giving legal standing to lifestyles that are not in keeping with the God-given meaning and purpose of marriage.
Marriage is the basis of the family and the protective haven for children, who are the real key to future economic and social well-being for our community. Cohabitation is ten times more common than in 1960, yet the social sciences show that cohabitation is not healthy for children or adults. We ought not to be encouraging cohabitation by giving it legal recognition as an alternative to marriage. The same can be said for the crisis of meaning that arises for marriage and family when the state seeks to redefine them as privatized relationships aimed at adult fulfillment and separated from the procreation and nurturing of children.
Our defense of marriage is meant to focus primarily on the fundamental importance of marriage for children, families and society, not on homosexuality or other matters. I ask you to join me in opposing measures like the domestic partnership registry, particularly when there is little time for public discussion. For a copy of this letter and more detailed information, you can turn to our diocesan website: www.toledodiocese.org.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair,
Bishop of Toledo